The federal multidistrict litigation established for cancer lawsuits involving Allergan Inc.’s Biocell textured breast implants is preparing to get underway, following the issuance of an initial Case Management Order in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.
According to the Order, which was posted to the Court’s website earlier this week, the litigation’s first Case Management Conference will be convened on Monday, January 13th, at 10:00 a.m. in Judge Brian Martinotti’s courtroom. Prior to the conference, Counsel for the parties are to meet and confer in an attempt to seek consensus on a proposed discovery plan and a suggested schedule for joinder of parties, amendment of pleadings, motions, and trial.
Counsel were also to submit a brief written statement, not more than three pages, indicating their preliminary understanding of the facts involved in the litigation and the critical factual and legal issues central to the litigation, including:
The Order further indicates that the Court will convene future Case Management Conferences approximately every 30 days. Liaison counsel are to submit a proposed agenda to the Court at least five days prior to any future conference.
Allergan recalled Biocell textured breast implants last August, after reports linked the devices to breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL.
BIA-ALCL is a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that occurs in the tissue surrounding breast implants. Typical symptoms include:
The FDA began investigating reports of BIA-ALCL in 2011, and was already aware that the majority of cases had occurred in women with textured breast implants. Last summer, however, the agency warned that Allergan Biocell textured breast implants had been implicated in 80% of BIA-ALCL reports, as well as 12 of the 13 fatalities in which a manufacturer was identified.
Plaintiffs pursuing Allergan breast implant lawsuits claim the company was aware of the link between Biocell textured devices and BIA-ALCL from performing extensive decades-long clinical studies, reviewing scientific studies and literature, FDA communications, government reports, and complaints from consumers, among other sources. Yet this information was never disclosed to the public or medical community.
The lawsuits further note that Allergan has not agreed to pay for removal surgery and associated medical expenses, or provide ongoing medical monitoring to Biocell textured breast implant recipients.
In December, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation agreed to centralize all federally filed Allergan breast implant lawsuits in the District of New Jersey. At the time, roughly 30 cases were pending in various federal courts around the country. However, many legal experts believe the litigation will eventually grow to include hundreds of claims.
Centralization will allow all pending Allergan breast implant lawsuits, as well as any filed in the future, to undergo coordinated discovery and other pretrial proceedings, thus improving judicial efficiency and preserving the resources of the courts, witnesses, and parties involved in the litigation. At some point, the Court will choose several representative cases for early bellwether trials. These verdicts will likely provide insight into how other juries might decide similar Allergan breast implant lawsuits, and possibly a path for settling most of the cases pending in the proceeding.